I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Scot Beds His Wife (Victorian Rebels, #5) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels #5
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 3rd 2017
“He was no barbarian. And certainly no gentleman. He had to be a Celtic god.”
FINAL DECISION: Kerrigan Byrne, who is a master at depicting broken and flawed people gives an unflinching story of two people who think themselves too broken for love but who find that the broken jagged parts of each fit together.
THE STORY: The Highlander Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, has a plan. He intends to buy the Ross cattle ranch and finally separate himself from the Mackenzies who have never brought anything but pain to him and his mother. The son of the evil and depraved former Laird of the Mackenzies, Gavin will do anything to get control of the Ross property even if it means engaging with the most difficult woman he has ever met. Samantha Masters has come to the Scotland running from her past filled with dangerous secrets. The passionate arguments between Gavin and Samantha turn into another kind of passion and when her past threatens her once again, Sam agrees to marry. But the secrets she is keeping might destroy everything she is building.
OPINION: This book is a good example to me of why I should stay away from spoilers. I happened to read one of the central secrets in this book and really wish I hadn’t. It happens to be one of my least favorite tropes in romance novels and it made me delay reading this book because I love this series so much and I didn’t want to hate this book.
Despite this fact, I ended up loving this book and I think I might have enjoyed it even more if I didn’t create a negative expectation for myself. (As a review style point, that is why I try so hard not to give away secrets in books without really good reasons and certainly not without warnings).
Throughout this series, Kerrigan Bryne has taken characters with painful destructive pasts and given them their happy endings. Characters that in less skillful hands would be irredeemable and unsympathetic become understandable and shown to be worthy of their own redemption through love. The beauty of this book is that the jagged lives of Sam and Gavin manage to make them fit together in a way that completes each of them and soothes their wounded souls.
Gavin is a man who, like his brothers, is haunted by the monstrous actions of his father. Rather than the physical violence which follows his brother Liam (hero of THE HIGHLANDER), Gavin has been been tilted towards the sexual excesses (certainly not the rape and sexual violence of his father). A charming “ladies man” Gavin is known for seducing his own brother’s wife and plenty of other women. Gavin’s charming handsome facade hides the same darkness that follows the other men in his family. (Readers of the series will recall that he is not only Liam’s younger half brother but also the half brother of Dorian). I especially enjoyed how his softer qualities do not negate his darker ones. The balance works here.
Samantha is brash and bold and foul mouthed and insecure. An American from the west, she is a survivor. Used to taking care of herself, she does what is necessary to get through the next crisis on her life on her own terms. Even worse, she has trusted unwisely before and thus is gun shy for trying again. She challenges Gavin and doesn’t back down from him.
The combination of the richly combative exchanges and the sweet understanding between Samantha and Gavin made this a gentler story than I expected in some ways. There are quite a few secrets and deceptions and violence and darkness in this story, but as is true with every book in this series there is also hope and redemption. For readers who have read the prior books in this series, this book is not as dark as the prior book, but for me, the heroine’s actions were more difficult to understand. But understand I did.
There is a lot going on in this book. Various characters and motives are interwoven in the story. Some side romance, some ongoing stories, some appearances by prior characters. This book covers a lot of territory.
One of my favorite things about this book is that it makes me look at and question my own assumptions and prejudices. Irredeemable people and actions might be understandable and capable of being forgiven.
Now that I’ve read it and enjoyed it, I look forward to reading it again without my preconceived fears and prejudices. It will give me something to do until the next book in the series.
WORTH MENTIONING: The Rook.
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE is the fifth book in the Victorian Rebels series. While the romance in this book is self-contained, there are complicated relationships that only make sense within the context of the whole series. If you want to start here to try out the series, go ahead, but you will want to go back and start from the beginning.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.